Do you feel heard? Listened to?
Psychiatrist Karl Menninger says this about the effect of someone giving us their ears and time:
“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
Menninger describes a transformation that can take place when we are given the space to just talk. The open-hearted, calm presence of another person can be the most soothing and relief-giving experience on earth. Such listening can unlock and free us, allowing the creation of something – or someone – altogether new…
Like birds with their wings clipped, many of us are stunted by emotional neglect. Indifference on the part of our primary caregivers while we’re young can lead to desperate attention-seeking as adults, in subtle or not-so-subtle forms.
When I think of my closest friends, the quality I value most is their willingness to listen. To rest, pause, and take the time to ask how I’m going with the intention of truly absorbing and reflecting back my answers. You know a true friend by the way they listen. And good listeners are usually those who’ve been listened to well.
But above and beyond any human ability to hear is the heart of a God whose ears are always attentive to my cry.
“I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (Psalm 116:1-2 NLT)
The Psalmist states that because he has evidence that God hears and answers – with the wonderful imagery of God ‘bending down’ to us – he will offer up prayer after prayer to the Lord he loves. There is no reason to hold back from the one who knows us intimately, hears us so well and gives us life-altering answers.
Every listener in my life is flawed, and I am far from perfect in this area. But my real peace comes from deeply knowing the one who offers me 100 per cent of his attention, every last bit of his time, and so much love and grace that I know he will never turn his face from me.